Category Archives: Training

Personal Goal

We would like to discuss goal-setting in the future, but an impromptu conversation while running with my daughter last week led me to briefly offer my suggestions on this matter.

Setting goals is very important in everything we do, but it is very individual. Like most sports, activities or even school, we often find ourselves comparing our performance to others. This can be a recipe for disaster and can quickly deflate our desire to run (or do other activities). I often tell my family to set two personal goals. Your first goal should be easily achievable, but a little out of immediate reach. Your second goal should be a little harder, but with a little training/work, also achievable. Remember though, ALWAYS measure your performance against yourself.

I had the opportunity this past week to run once with both my daughters.

The other night Madison and I went out for a run. Madison is still very new to running, but doing extremely well. Like most people she often compares herself to her friends. We had a great conversation as we ran, which by the way often inspires children to run a little farther. We talked about a short and long-term goal that would challenge her, but not discourage her. I reminded her that running should be fun and although you may run with people, it is an individual activity with individual goals and expectations. My frequent running partner and I are fortunate that we run with similar goals for our half marathon races, but he does not run marathons, so I set my own goals for those races. I like to push myself, but I know I’ll never run a 2 hour marathon, so I don’t set that as my goal. I challenge myself so that I can improve and only measure my performance against myself.

We are fortunate to live near a large park, with lots of trails that run along the ocean, past old turrets and batteries of a century-old defence fortification. Madison and I had a great run, enjoying the views and the conversation, as we discussed goal-setting.  She now has set her own goals for her next 10k, at the end of August.

My run with Gabrielle was quite different. The only goals we discuss is where she wants to run and how far. We want the girls to enjoy running and at Gabrielle’s age (8) my wife and I believe this should be her only goals. She is interested in her times when she goes in an event, but with us she just wants to run and talk. We ran a shorter run through the park and even stopped at a high point to look out over the water and all the sail boats. Running with your children gives you a great chance to talk, or should I say listen. Gabrielle talked about school, dancing, running and music. Before I knew it our 5k run was done.

I am proud of my wife and daughters’ progress and I’m happy we can all get outside and run. As I look out the window at the clear sky and warm sunny day I challenge every family to put on your sneakers and head outside. Run around the block, run a kilometer or run longer, but just get out and run. Set a goal for yourself, no matter how small. You’ll be glad you did.

Yours in running,


Training Week 5 – Lisa

The gang is now in full swing, training for the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend in California. Six adults (Lisa, Mark, Barb, Dave, Jen & Paul) are training for the inaugural Dumbo Double Dare. We will run a 10K on Saturday, followed by a half marathon on Sunday. That’s a total of 31.1K in two days. (19.3 miles for our friends in the US.) The kids are running as well. Gabi, Jon and Emily will run the 5K Disneyland Family Fun Run; and Madison, Margaret and Madeline will run the Disneyland 10K.

Barb and I are just wrapping up week 5 of our training plan. It’s pretty simple, really. We run two 45-minute runs through the week (usually around 6.5K at our current pace), with our “long runs” on weekends. This is a big weekend for us because it marks the first of our “double runs”. That is, we run a short run on Saturday, followed by a longer run on Sunday. We will do this every other weekend, increasing our distance until we can run 10K on Saturday, followed by 21.1K on Sunday. At that point, we’re off to California to challenge Dumbo.

The good news is that we haven’t missed a single training run yet. Today was the first day it’s rained, and we ran anyway. Now if we can keep this up until August 31st, we’re all set. Then we just have the full marathon training to conquer. Baby steps…

Now it’s your turn – go lace up your trainers and go for a run. I Dumbo Double Dare you!!

Yours in running,


Get Your Kids Running Part III

If you’re following along, we at Running Family Style have dedicated a couple of posts to strategies for getting your kids, and yourselves, dear Parents, on the road to running. This is the third instalment, so if you’re just joining, you might want to hop back a few posts and check out the Top 10 List…

4.      Change up the route so it doesn’t become boring. The best thing about running is that you can do it anywhere. (Use common sense regarding safety, of course. Running on busy streets without sidewalks is not the best option.) Take your little runner to a park, on a wooded trail, through the city, or even reverse the direction of the route to keep it from getting stale. Even if you have a favorite running route, it is worthwhile making some changes to keep it interesting. My favorite tool for mapping running routes, around Halifax or wherever we happen to be traveling, is GMap Pedometer ( This tool allows you to map routes; calculate distance, pace, and calorie burn; and track your runs on a workout log. Madison loves to use the application to plan runs and check distances for the Running Club at school.

5.      Encourage your child to join a running club at school or in the community. If your school doesn’t have a running club, get a group of parents and school administrators involved in starting one. Begin with the Phys. Ed. teacher. He or she will usually be your biggest ally in getting kids fit and active. Some communities also have running groups for kids outside of school, with regular sponsored events. At our daughters’ school, the Running Club has become quite popular. Some of the kids are more focused and competitive than others, but they’re all running. They meet once a week after school and run around the perimeter of a historic Halifax cemetery. They run at their own pace, and the Principal and Phys. Ed. teacher track the total laps (conveniently 1 km). The goal this school year was to collectively run enough laps to “climb Mount Everest”.

6.      Participate in running activities and events as a family. Many larger races also have kids’ events. These are usually shorter distance “fun runs” – from a couple hundred meters to 5K. Set training goals with your child to ensure that he or she is well prepared. Encourage participation versus competition. Some kids are competitive by nature, but others are not. Encourage children to pursue personal bests, not to beat their friends. At this early stage of their running careers, children need to know that participation and fitness are the most important things, and that it feels great to have completed a race, especially if there is a medal at the end! If you’re new to running, there’s nothing like a Family 5K to get the family on track. Most even welcome strollers.

If you happen to be a “destination runner”, look for races with kids’ events when planning your next “runcation”. When we started running, our first race was the Walt Disney World Half Marathon. Madison and Gabrielle asked to run the Mickey Mile kids’ race. They loved all the hype, the medal, the T-Shirt and the experience. When we run, they always want to participate. Madison will run her first 10K on Sunday at the Bluenose Marathon with Lisa. Gabrielle will run the Doctors Nova Scotia Kids’ Race with her school.

Stay tuned for the 4th and final instalment of Get Your Kids Running and all the Bluenose Highlights!

Mark & Lisa

Mark’s Weekly Update (May 5th – 11th)

It’s only a week until the Bluenose and it was a tough week of training. I started off the week by getting up early Sunday morning and heading out with a few friends to do a dry run of the half marathon route. It wasn’t planned, but we showed up at one guy’s house to start our run and we were all dressed in blue. We looked like a senior’s version of the Blue Man Group. The weather was perfect and we just ran at a pace 30 seconds a kilometer off our race day pace. There was not a lot of traffic and when we reached the park I was surprised that so few people were out on this beautiful Sunday morning. We finished up the run refreshed and confident we would have a good run in two weeks.

The run sounds great, so you are probably wondering why I said this was a tough week. Well, as great a day as Sunday was, Monday was just the opposite. I woke up Monday morning with a pain in my lower back. I am not a person that has back issues, so I was quite surprised and quite upset. It is never nice to have an injury, but less than two weeks to a run can be devastating. I took some ibuprofen and contacted my running partner. He is a pharmacist and recommended a back pain medication. For the next few days I was in pain sitting, standing, or sleeping. Finally Friday morning I got up and the pain was less intense. I figured this was D-day. With just over a week until the run I needed to try and run.

Venturing out, I chose a shorter 7.0km run. I started out slow, but as I got going the lower back felt pretty good, so I increased my speed to normal. I finished the run without incident and without much pain. I still couldn’t sit or stand for too long without discomfort, but I was able to run. The next two days I got up still in a little pain, but I was able to run short training runs without aggravating my injury.

I am not fully healed yet, but I am confident that next Sunday I will be out on the road, running through the city, on my way to finishing the Bluenose Half Marathon.

Keep Running!


And We’re Off!!

It’s April 26th, and we’re off to the races. Quite literally. We’ll call this the first official week of training season after a couple of months of waiting for the glacier to recede. Wouldn’t want to ruin a brand new pair of running shoes in the slush!

The need to get off my butt and back to practicing is fueled by a year of new running challenges. I’m still relatively new at this game, having only started “seriously” training less than two years ago. I call myself a reluctant runner. I always contended that I would only be inclined to run if something really big was chasing me (and frankly, then only if it looked like the outcome of that chase might be worse than the massive coronary that I imagined to be the outcome of the running.)

This is how it happened. We were leaving the Disney World resort on a cold and miserable January morning in 2011, just as the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend was wrapping up. The intrepid marathoners had set out in freezing rain to begin their journey. I really couldn’t imagine why anyone would voluntarily punish themselves like that.

When we arrived home and started talking to friends, that Marathon became a frequent topic of conversation. I recall saying things like, “I don’t know why people run marathons, particularly in weather like that. Smart money would have gone back to bed.” It made me shudder. My husband, on the other hand, was intrigued. Always looking to enhance his Disney experience with new adventures, and never one to be put off by a little challenge, he started to research. Way back, he had been a cross country runner, and the running culture made sense to him.

By the time the snow melted that winter, three of us had committed to training for the Walt Disney World Half Marathon in January 2012. And when I say committed, we still hadn’t registered for the run. It was more of a mutual confirmation that if we really felt like running 13.1 miles, we probably could. Mark was for more convinced than I. Apparently Barbara was convinced that she could do it, too. Particularly if there was a piece of hardware sporting Donald Duck waiting for her at the finish line.

Run Disney has partnered with Olympian and running guru, Jeff Galloway, to offer training plans for both beginner and advanced runners. I chose the training plan for Beginning Runners, who have been running consistently for less than six months. If I followed the plan, I was assured that I would finish the race “in the upright position”. No time goal. Just finish. Preferably, without having a heart attack.

Back to April, 2013. It’s now time for Barbara and me to start training for our fourth half-marathon. (We’ve lost count of the achievements of the runaway marathon train that is Mark, but he’s getting into training mode as well.) We’re on a quest for Coast to Coast glory in August, when we will be challenging the “Dumbo Double Dare”. We’ll take on the inaugural Disneyland 10K on Saturday, and wash that down with the Disneyland Half Marathon on Sunday, collecting a total of four pieces of hardware in the process. That’s one medal for each race, one for the Double Dare challenge (finishing both races on consecutive days), and the coveted Coast to Coast medal for completing one Disney Half on the East Coast and one on the West Coast in the same calendar year. (We knocked off the first Half of the Coast to Coast in January.)

But even more exciting than all that, Barb and I are registered for our very first, promised-it-was-never-gonna-happen, Full Marathon. This whole adventure, which started out as a one shot deal, has turned into something much more. The girls are registered for 10K runs, and Mark is now registered for the Dopey Challenge (5K+10K+Half+Full=Dopey).

We’re not running zealots; we’re just on a quest to build a fun- and fitness-based lifestyle that will benefit our whole family. Come along for the ride run!